Mindfulness is not simply a new wave, touchy feely program. CEOs, senior executives, and lawyers are using mindfulness as a tool to help promote retention, talent advancement and innovation. As noted in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “How Meditation Benefits CEOs”, by Emma Seppala, the research on mindfulness indicates that mindfulness meditation hones skills like attention, memory and emotional intelligence.
Executives (and lawyers) who have incorporated mindfulness programs into the workplace have found (as have numerous research studies) that meditation can decrease anxiety and thereby boost resilience and performance under stress. This allows executives, employees and lawyers to maintain their composure in high stress situations and propose solutions rather than simply adding to the chaos.
Brain-imaging research has shown that mindfulness meditation also can help strengthen your ability to regulate your emotions (referred to as “emotional intelligence”). Some may refer to this as patience or empathy. No matter what label you use, increasing your ability to respond, rather than react (or over react) to others can result in a better, more supportive work environment, diffuse what could otherwise be a hostile interaction, and result in an overall better outcome.
For those of us in search of that “eureka” moment, when creativity and innovation is of paramount importance, studies suggest that we have our biggest breakthroughs and insights and are most creative when we are in a more relaxed, meditative frame of mind. If you are overly stressed, the creativity juices usually cannot flow.
Stress in some form or other is an inevitable part of our lives. Meditation will not make the stress go away. Just like the water on the surface of a lake or an ocean, there will always be waves, sometimes big, sometimes very small, depending upon the wind that is blowing over the surface. We cannot make the wind stop blowing across the surface of the water any more that we can suppress the waves of the mind, and in fact attempting to do so will only create more tension, more waves. But through meditation we may find some shelter from the wind and learn to ride the waves.
So let’s try this exercise taken from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go There You Are:
Try waking a few moments earlier in the morning, and for whatever length of time you have chosen, let it be a time for intentional wakefulness. Do not fill this time with you day’s “to do” list. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Simply allow this time to be of stillness, of presence, of being with yourself. Before getting out of bed, get in touch with your breath, feel the various sensations in your body, note any thoughts and feelings that may be present. Can you feel your breathing? Are you awake now?
Give it a try and see if you can more fully connect with yourself, if just for a moment.